Sammy Hallal | Torrey Pines High School Senior
Though e-cigarettes and vapes have helped adult smokers quit their tobacco habit, items like the nicotine device Juul have boomed in popularity among teenagers. The Juul is an e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive and fits in the palm of your hand. Over the past few years it has become a lot more socially acceptable “to Juul,” and the habit has quickly overtaken smoking cigarettes.
“If you were to go to any party or social event, it’s likely there is going to be a Juul there,” John, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School said. “They’re sleek, you can hide them literally anywhere, there’s a bunch of flavors. It’s not really hard to understand why they’re so big.”
In 2017, the e-cigarette market expanded by 40 percent, according to Nielsen data, with Juul making up over half of all e-cigarette retail market sales. It is also important to note that Juul has only been around since 2015 and hundreds of other similar devices are also available on the market.
“[Juuls] are everywhere. I’ve seen kids get away with hitting them in bathroom stalls or even in class,” Ali, a student at Francis Parker School said. “There’s almost always kids using them in the bathroom stalls.”
Pax Labs, the company that manufactures Juuls, is adamant that its products are not targeted towards youth but serve as a healthier adult alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Part of the reason for the Juul’s popularity could be attributed to the unusually high 59 milligram per milliliter dose of nicotine that it delivers with each hit. Each juul pod, which lasts for about 200 puffs, contains nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. Similar high-nicotine products like the Phix, Suorin, and Aspire Breeze have also become popular among youth.
“You try [a Juul] once and pretty quickly you’re hooked,” Chelsea, a senior at Torrey Pines said. “Some of the people who start using them realize they’re getting addicted and quit, but there’s also a lot of people who just can’t go a few hours without another hit. That’s where it gets kind of concerning.”
As Juuls land in the hands of more and more teenagers, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Apr. 24 that it would be cracking down on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to teenagers. The FDA has begun “a large-scale, undercover national blitz” of retailers that sell e-cigarettes to minors as well as working with eBay to remove all listings for Juul products on its site.